|27-10-2009, 01:34 PM||#1|
Red Dwarf - Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers | Saccade
Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers
First off, I think that it's important to note that this piece of Interactive Fiction is not in any way tied officially to Grant Naylor's creations in the Red Dwarf universe.
Second, and more importantly, is if you are not familiar with the first few Red Dwarf books (Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers and Better Than Life) or with the storyline of the original BBC TV series - you will struggle with this game, as it follows the first series’ Red Dwarf storyline as best as it can.
Red Dwarf: IWCD was written by Joseph Stanko and Neal Grigsby and was compiled in this last, PC version by Joseph Stanko while attending Berkley University in 1996. The game's development spanned a few years and a few different platforms.
The background is outlined in the game's Readme file, which is most definitely worth reading before playing this game as it contains information about how to use the rather unique and, at times, frustrating interface, or Parser.
J Stanko believes that the Parser for this game is one of the best ones he has ever encountered, having made it himself - boldly declaring that it is "as good as the old Infocom games and surpasses the weak Sierra text interface".
I am not so sure...
His insistence that names and certain objects must be Proper Nouns is, to an extent, understandable. Though, it is also the first hint that Red Dwarf is also a rather poorly written piece of software.
It is also decided that directions, such as North-East, South-West, NE, etc... are "not proper directions" and so have been removed from the game altogether.
This makes for some very interesting and complex maps as all the rooms and corridors are at right angles to each other directionally. Expect the psycho-geography that you will plot out as you travel through the game and, in particular, the mining ship Red Dwarf to become confused with what is actually mapped in the game and the resulting messy spider’s web you can attempt to draw out.
The “unique” directional system will eventually lead you through a process of trial and error, trying every possible combination of direction, until you finally discover that the way forwards is the same route that you would take to go backwards.
Sound confusing enough yet?
This is also the second clue that shortcuts have been made when "designing" the game.
The third would be the typo's in the names of some objects (which is something to look out for!) and scene descriptions and dialogue you must use.
I must admit that Stanko has managed to keep some of Naylor's dry and mocking Red Dwarf humour. Even if it is only by copying, verbatim, passages from the books it is based upon and lines from the TV scripts.
You play the Liverpudlian, Dave Lister, the very lowest ranking human on Red Dwarf, only just outranking the mechanoid scrubbers.
Characters from the original story include Frankenstein, Lister's pet cat. Someone whom you must remember to take with you before you board the ship! Otherwise you will not progress in the game and yet be unable to go back without restarting or loading a previous save.
(Yep, it's one of those games with hanging ends all over the place.)
Holly, the ship's computer, is a very cynical and patronising AI who has an IQ of over 6000 and is possessing of a sense of humour and a love of practical jokes that border on sadistic.
Arnold Rimmer, BSC, SSC, (Bronze Swimming Certificate; Silver Swimming Certificate) Lister's authoritarian and egotistical room-mate, regarded as a total Smeg-Head and the person selected by Holly, to be programmed as Ship's Hologram, as the one most suited to keep Lister sane as he soldiers on alone in his quest, in deep space, on the ship.
The Cat - Descendant of Frankenstein, having evolved over the millennia spent on board Red Dwarf, the Cat is the possessor of the largest, most funky and stylish wardrobe you will ever get lost and starve to death in.
As a collector of shiny things and believing in his own sense of style over the Cat Bible, which documents the life of Cloister and Frankincense as the progenitors of the Cat race, the Cat is one of the most frustrating characters to work with in the game - being more interested in grooming himself and eating Krispies than anything else.
Kristine Kochanski, Lister's heart's desire makes a brief appearance on the Bridge of the ship before... well, you'll have to play to find out.
Captain Hollister also plays out his role in the launching of Lister's wayward adventure through space and time, along with the Intelligent Talkie Toaster (always good for a conversation, so long as it is about bakery products), broken Intelligent Food Dispensers, the Scutters - the ship’s maintenance robots - and Lister's crew-mates: Olaf Peterson and Selby and Chen.
All have their part in the game, whether it is a small part or a slightly smaller part than that...
The dialogue in game is, as I have said, straight out of the original series. This makes for sudden bursts of a lot of story-line, followed by long periods where the only thing you will get out of the other characters is "You are Goit, Lister" and "Yes Dave, so?" which is a little bit of a let down, considering that the banter between the central characters was the driving point, the clash of personalities being the key to the series’ success as a comedy. It is quite rewarding to finally discover the one item that a character will know something about, just for the short dialogue that ensues.
The descriptive and narrative parts of the game are fairly solid. They give you a good image of what is going on and where you are, but these descriptions can become a touch repetitive as you navigate the labyrinthine corridors of Red Dwarf, going backwards to go right and right to go North.
The names of the rooms do not really help in keeping a map, as where you go when you leave in a certain direction is governed by which direction you entered the room in the first place.
It almost feels as if the layout has been made up as you go along and strung together without much thought and simply left, disguising another knock-up job as a cunning and devious maze!
It is quite fun trying to navigate the ship and it is satisfying when you do finally get to where you wanted to go.
The scoring system is pretty straight forward, going up as you solve problems and head towards the ultimate goal of the game; going down as you make any other moves or take any other actions.
The main aim of the game is to learn what it is that you - Dave Lister - desire and blunder your way through his journey in obtaining it. The score does not reflect your progress towards this, though.
If it is, indeed, possible to finish and win the game (Stenko claims that it is possible which, considering the other cover-ups that have been made, I feel a bit dubious about.) though I have as yet to finish it entirely. I am, at this point, very stuck! So, unfortunately, no Hints or Walkthru for this game just yet.
It seems that everyone who plays gets to around the same point and then all progress stops.
The game's Parser makes use of the usual verb system, with the exception that some things must be capitalised if they are Proper Nouns.
Forgetting this often can prove to be irksome as you make your way through lists of possible actions only to find out that there is no "holly" in the room, but "Holly" is there.
There are the usual shortcuts for commands and verbs in the parser, such as N, S, E, W for directions, L for look, G for get, “All” etc... and the structure is pretty good when you get it right!
For example, you cannot "Give Holly the Box" as Give isn't a proper noun. "give Holly the Box" will work in some instances and not others (the parser replying "I don't quite follow. You want to give what to whom" reminding you of the correct structure of complex commands), whereas "give Box to Holly" will work every time.
There is no limit on the size of your inventory, meaning that you never have to drop anything, though the command is still there. Some items are also worn, such as your jacket ("my jacket" rather than "the jacket") and some items are there just get in the way.
One handy function, that is not often found in a lot of Interactive Fiction, is the choice to "give / use all except my jacket (for instance) with all". The first “all” referring to your inventory, the second to all objects in the room – there doesn’t appear to be a shortcut to refer to every item in your inventory twice and “use all with all” is often not allowed.
This can be very handy when stuck on what to do, as it saves you having to type out a lot of separate commands to reach the same end.
Using all except the jacket and then using the jacket effectively covers every combination possible in the room in which you find yourself.
It's also handy when talking to the other characters. Talking to Rimmer about Cat will not work; Asking is the same as Talking. "Ask Rimmer about all" will present you with a list of all the items in the room with his replies on each, which can help in that it lists objects that would otherwise remain hidden unless looked for specifically.
You must also look behind, under and over things to progress. This can, again, easily be achieved by telling the game to "look behind all".
The only things that are not usually included under the "all" command are objects that must be opened or closed in order to look in or behind.
Once you have opened the object, say a cupboard, you must look in the cupboard and then choose the object to examine or take. Just giving the command to take the object without first looking at it in the cupboard sometimes will not work.
I'm making this sound a lot more complex than it really is!
But it is important to get them correct to save yourself from a few troubles. The command structure is explained again in the Readme file – I’ve outlined it here as an overview as I think that the interface in Interactive Fiction games, how easy or not it is to use, is second only to the story and plot of the adventure.
Once you have the basics of the command structure, using them becomes a lot easier. It is just remembering all the specifics, which is aided by the rather sarcastic and patronising Stenko narrator. Once you have those sorted, there shouldn't be any problems in getting Lister to do exactly what you want him to.
The game runs in DosBox without problems and can also be run from the .exe straight from Windows Explorer.
The background and text colour are selectable at the beginning of the game, though why you’d choose black text on a black background, I’ve no idea…
Clunky interface, bizarre mapping and strange spellings aside, this game is worth a play-through for anyone who’s a fan of Red Dwarf.
I’d not recommend it, unless you are after a real challenge, for anyone who is totally unfamiliar with the series, purely because you will get stuck on what to do next very early on.
I would like to give Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers a higher score, but because of the story-line, niggles with the parser and slap-dash feel to the game’s design and build will only give it a bog standard:
2 / 5
Legends will never die.
Check here for Maps i made
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